Date of Award

December 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Jeffrey H. Tiger

Committee Members

Tiffany Kodak, John C. Moore, Bonita Klein-Tasman, Christine Larson


Angelman syndrome is a neuro-genetic disorder characterized by intellectual and developmental disability. Common behavioral characteristics of this disorder include a heightened interest in social interactions and frequent bids to initiate interaction. These bids can be problematic, for instance when a child attempts to hug strangers in public places. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate a discrimination training program to teach appropriate from inappropriate times to initiate a social interaction with three males diagnosed with Angelman Syndrome whose caregivers reported frequent hugging or hand holding as a problem. During a baseline, we alternated periods in which attention was delivered on an FR-1 schedule following social initiations with periods in which social initiations in the form of hugs or grabs were blocked (i.e., placed on extinction). Following this baseline, we implemented a discrimination training program to bring social initiations under the stimulus control of a salient discriminative stimulus and then presented that stimulus during FR-1 conditions in sessions that were similar to baseline. We evaluated the effects of presenting the discriminative stimulus in a combination reversal design and multiple baselines design across therapists. In the second baseline, the child's caregiver conducted sessions. Upon development of discriminated social initiations, we then extended treatment to the participants' homes during longer observation periods.

Included in

Psychology Commons